Work-Integrated Environmental Design Masters Program Open for Applications

The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) at the University of Calgary is accepting applications for its Master of Environmental Design (MEDes) program. Located in the foothills of the world-renowned Canadian Rockies, with easy flight access to Vancouver and Toronto, the University of Calgary offers incredible value to international students when comparing its tuition to similar programs in the U.S, as well as a reasonable cost of living compared to other Canadian and American cities.

The MEDes is a unique degree program that offers students with backgrounds in design-related fields such as architecture, planning, and landscape architecture, an opportunity to do specialized research in an area that is of particular interest to them. Previous students have used the MEDes to do research on mass timber, energy performance, circular economy, robots in architecture and lifecycle analysis. SAPL Dean, John L. Brown believes the program is ideal “for those who want to accelerate their career objectives by developing an area of specialization early on in their career.”

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Courtesy of University of Calgary

The MEDes has two formats: a 16-month, continuous study stream or a more traditional two-year format. Students in the 16-month stream are eligible, pending approval, to participate in the government-sponsored Mitacs Accelerate program, which pairs students with partner organizations for half of their degree program to do research as part of a paid internship. Students work with their supervisor and the partner organization to develop the research project. 

Kristen Forward, who graduated from the program in 2019 developed research on how the aesthetics of sustainable and recyclable materials can be integrated into building practice. During the first summer of the MEDes program, she had an opportunity to work with Danish architect Kasper Guldager Jensen, who is a big proponent of circular design. The experience allowed her to see the possibilities for using digital tools to make sustainability attractive.

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Courtesy of University of Calgary

Kristen shares: “The research I pursued in the MEDes absolutely led to my current position as a Computational Designer at NBBJ. When I presented my thesis work at the ACADIA conference, I gained interest from industry professionals looking to hire new talent. I was hired due to my research focus/expertise on digital tools, as well as my ability to think at a larger scale in terms of industry practice. In the short amount of time I have worked at NBBJ my role has progressed from applying computation to project work to further engaging the global firm regarding sustainability and design computation initiatives.”

Nicolas Hamel completed his degree this past September, studying the promising material supply chain of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and exposing what prevents it from being used more widely in construction. “The thesis was an opportunity to spend sixteen months working on a project that allowed all my interests to coalesce,” he explains. “I was able to land my current position at Intelligent City + LWPAC through the research done in my thesis.”

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Courtesy of University of Calgary

The MEDes program gives focused design students an unparalleled opportunity to explore research topics that interest them. Students have access to cutting edge digital fabrication technology in the form of robot arms, a fleet of small-scale 3D printers, as well as one large 3D printer, a water jet cutter for steel, CNC mills, and laser cutters.

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Courtesy of University of Calgary

With its emphasis on equipping students for a future in which technology will be integrated into all aspects of design and construction, SAPL is leading the way towards educating the designers, researchers and thinkers of tomorrow. 

For any questions or additional information, please contact

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Cite: Antonia Piñeiro. "Work-Integrated Environmental Design Masters Program Open for Applications" 13 Oct 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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